11/10/2010 07:47 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Making of a Novel: Meeting the Public

I was part of an author's luncheon event today. There were about 500 people in the audience and five featured authors besides myself. Although my hosts were gracious and organized, and the venue was spectacular, and even the food was quite good, it was a strange event.

  • One woman came up to me, where I sat at the table signing books, and asked, "Do you like to write?" I was so stunned that I'm not sure I even answered her.
  • At least a dozen people came up and whispered that they were looking forward to reading my book on Kindle -- as if they were committing some kind of crime.
  • Far more than a dozen people made a point of standing in line to tell me that they really enjoyed the story I told about my book. Not one of those people bought a book.
  • The number one most popular question people asked of me was, "How long have you been a writer?" I couldn't for the life of me figure out why they cared, and neither, it seemed, could they. When I answered, "Twenty-five years," they just nodded and walked away.
  • A man came up, pointed at me, then pointed at the poster of me, and back to me again -- as if to say, "You're the same person in that picture!"
  • One of the authors, who seemed quite charming when we were chatting, spent her allotted time at the microphone talking about her bladder surgery and how she had a certain private body part tightened up to resemble that of a much younger woman -- and the audience thought this was all fantastically funny. Or maybe it was nervous laughter?

I am back home now, and trying to sit down to write, but I am in such a foul mood that I find myself needing to remember why I thought writing books was such a good idea in the first place.